When someone passes away at the hands of another, due to a criminal act, negligence or error, the survivors may choose to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In Atlanta, and throughout the state of Georgia, there is a hierarchy of relatives when it comes to filing this type of suit. The people who may recover, in order, are:
- Spouse and Children
If the person is survived by a spouse, the spouse is the person who has the right to file a lawsuit. If the decedent (that is, the person who died) and spouse have children in common, the spouse will file on behalf of themselves and the children. Typically, 1/3 of the award will go to the spouse and the remainder will be split among the children.
When there is no surviving spouse, the children of the decedent have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The children would divide any compensation awarded evenly.
If the decedent had no spouse or children, the parents of the person may file a wrongful death lawsuit.
In cases where none of the above are in existence, the Estate will file suit. The award will be divided among the next of kin as determined under probate law.
The parties who have the right to file a lawsuit is determined not at the time of injury, but at the actual time of death. It is rare for the people to be different at these two times, but it has happened. An experienced wrongful death attorney can be of assistance in these matters.